A Teacher's Quest - A Practice of Mindfulness

Mindful Image

A Teacher’s Quest – My Practice of Mindfulness

By: Erin DeCoste

I was feeling quite crabby this morning, for no particular reason.  I was getting irritated with everything and everyone around me, and just wanted to be left alone.  I have a very full life and schedule, as do all educators, and require a fair amount of decompression time each week in order to maintain peace and order in my brain.  I have been lacking that time recently – which was really evident this morning!  I sat for a quiet moment and a realization dawned on me – what if today was my last day?  What if?  The thought disturbed me for a moment, and then I thought: If today were my last day, how would I want it to play out?  Would I want it to be a day of being grouchy and irritable? Absolutely, positively NO!   

Feeling extremely grateful for that moment of grace and clarity, I practiced being mindful with every thought I had the rest of the day. I gave each moment its due.  I stopped multi-tasking when my daughter told me what she did at her friend’s birthday party, and I gave her my absolute, fullest attention.  I noticed my own joy watching her animation and happiness while she shared her story. When my cat crawled into my lap for attention, I stopped what I was doing and patted her until she chose to leave. I noticed my happiness because she chose to share her affection with me. My heart and mind were full of gratitude for my family, my friends, the world, my wonderful life, everything.  Being mindful of my range of emotions, and then making a conscious choice to change my experiences, really turned my day around.  

I have read a lot about mindfulness, and I have sat in on several Mindful Meditation sessions offered in my town.  I practice being mindful every chance that I can.  I have the best intentions every day when I wake up: I say my prayers of gratitude, then set my intentions for the day to be compassionate, empathetic, and really notice how I feel during encounters and experiences with others.  

Some days go according to this plan, and others definitely do not. As a special education teacher, I typically have a lot of patience, and know not to take what other people do and say personally.  However, I get pushed to the end of my patience sometimes, and in these frustrated moments, I turn to mindfulness – I take a deep breath, examine my emotions and responses, reset myself, and counsel myself to go back to the situation in a mindful state. I notice how I am feeling, see the situation from the student’s point of view, feel compassion, change the tone of my voice, make better word choices, and become aware of my non-verbal language. I always feel instantly better when I do this.  Usually the situation can be turned around, and I am able to have a constructive conversation with the student. 

When I interact with my students in a mindful way, they respond more positively to me. They see me actively listening to them, and hear me responding to what they are saying, which validates their opinions and ideas. It has led to them being more thoughtful and mindful toward their classmates and myself. I have a quote on my board (from Cinderella’s mom): Have courage and be kind. Last week, one of my students adjusted it: Have courage and be kind to Mrs. DeCoste. My heart was full.

I work with my students every day to assist them with finding their mindfulness – what works for them?  How to quiet the many, many thoughts flying through their minds at any given time, and focus on the task? How to be mindful of how their words and actions affect others?  How to set positive intentions for themselves every day, as they navigate through a very difficult time in their lives – middle school? Some strategies that we use include:

  • mindful breathing – being aware of breath, slowing it down
  • mindful steps – how the ground feels, what do you see/hear/smell
  • gratitude journal or jar: writing what you are grateful for
  • sense countdown – think of:

                        5 things you can see

                        4 things you can touch

                        3 things you can hear

2 things you can smell

                        1 thing you can taste

  • guided meditation using a succulent plant to focus attention

As a faculty member at Anna Maria College, I try to instill upon my educator preparation graduate students the importance of practicing mindfulness as they go into their classrooms every day.  You never know the impact you may have on another human being – may it be positive or negative.  Give students and others in your life, your fullest attention.  Be mindful about how you respond to stressful situations and how you view your world.  Good self-care is essential for educators to practice in order to support their health and well-being. Some strategies to try include:

  • adequate sleep, healthful diet, and good hydration
  • spend time outdoors – nature therapy
  • move! Walk, run, jump, dance, tiptoe, ride, swim – just move!
  • pursue your hobbies
  • spend time alone; spend time with people you care about
  • keep a gratitude journal or jar: write what you are grateful for
  • plant therapy: growing, caring for, admiring plants
  • pet therapy: spend time with animals
  • practice meditation: even if it is only for 3-5 minutes
  • (see “Headspace” below for short, guided, daily meditations)
  • community service: helping others feels great!
  • squelch negative self-talk
  • find something interesting and positive about people you know

Learn how to practice your mindfulness. My mindfulness is a work in progress, but I feel like my baby steps are more like toddler steps now.  I want my mindfulness to continue to increase and develop within me.  I know that I need to nurture it, as I do the plants in my garden.  Some days I forget to water, but thankfully, my plants are forgiving and keep growing. I remember that they need my full, mindful attention, and all is well again.  

Mindfulness resources: 

~Fully Present: The Science, Art, & Practice of Mindfulness; written by Susan L Smalley, Ph.D. and Diana Winston 

~Headspace: https://my.headspace.com/

 ~Insight Meditation Society (Barre, MA): www.dharma.org 

~Mindful magazine: www.mindful.org 

Erin DeCoste has been a faculty member at Anna Maria College since 2015.  She currently teaches Strategies for Inclusion and Development of IEPs for the Education Department, and is the Moderate Disabilities Program Coordinator.  She is also an instructor at The Bromfield School in Harvard, MA, where she teaches middle school special education students. 

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2018 Spring Senior Art Exhibit

Senior Art Exhibit

Department of Art & Design Presents:

APRIL/MAY 2018 Senior Art Exhibitions at Art Center Gallery, Miriam Hall

You are invited to this year’s Senior Art Exhibitions which represent the capstone experience for our seniors in Art Therapy, Graphic Design, and Studio Art. There will be two group exhibitions this spring. Exhibition 1, opens on Wednesday 18 April and runs through 28 April. Exhibition 2, opens on Wednesday 2 May and runs through 12 May.

Exhibition 1 showcases the work of Kristen Bruno, Rebecca Foti, Kathryn Rendock, Justin Senus, and Hannah Trudo. Opening Reception, Wednesday 18 April, 5 – 7pm

Exhibition 2 showcases the work of Daniel Jodrey, Shannon Latour, Matthew Mitera, Suzanne Pekar, and Michelle St. Denis. Opening Reception, Wednesday 2 May, 5 – 7pm

All Events are Free and Open to the Public.

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Esther Solondz - So Lightly Here

smESolondz Poster goldEsther Solondz So Lightly Here

The Art Center Gallery at Anna Maria College will present Esther Solondz, So Lightly Here from Wednesday, February 21through Wednesday, April 11. Esther Solondz lives in Providence, Rhode Island, and keeps a studio both there and in New Hampshire. Gallery NAGA in Boston represents her. She produces gallery-scale work, and monumental outdoor sculptures. In both cases, she conspires with plants, animals, and natural elements to create a finished work of art over time. The ephemeral nature of her work and the development of it over time seem directly influenced by her training as a photographer, yet the resulting images are akin to sculpture, painting, and drawing. There are glass cylinders filled with a myriad of objects encrusted with salt, there are towers of milkweed, and of mud, and there are portraits composed of stains left by rust.

The Anna Maria College exhibit of Esther Solondz So Lightly Here, surveys the various modes employed to investigate specific natural phenomena by showcasing the marks, and structures resulting from the artist’s experiments, and collaborations with nature. The exhibit proposes to depict the behavior of these elements over time, through the presentation of the subsequent work. The exhibition of a guest artist each semester exposes students, the college, and community to a diverse range of contemporary art. An accompanying catalog further explores the artist’s work and will be available for sale at the Opening. The public, students, staff, and classes are invited to attend the Opening Reception on Wednesday, February 21 from 5:00 – 7:00 pm, featuring a discussion at 5:30pm, between Solondz and Gallery Director Darrell Matsumoto.

Anna Maria College

School of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Department of Art & Design

Art Center Gallery at Miriam Hall

50 Sunset Lane

Paxton, MA 01712

Catalog available: Esther Solondz, So Lightly Here or online at magcloud.com

and search for Anna Maria College

@annamaria_artanddesign    #annamaria_artgallery

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Fall 2017 Deans List


Congratulations to the students who made the 2017 Fall Dean's List:

Patrick Adams Elizabeth Eldridge Sabrina LaMountain Michael Rapoza
Benjamin Alden Joseph Elliott Yvonne Lamptey Troy Repekta
Stephanie Allen Anekah Ellis Robert Lancaster Harley Richards III
Sherezade Alvarez Cherie-Ann Extra Jacqueline LaPierre Daniel Rinkus
Brandon Andexler Richard Fagan Jr. Shannon Latour Natalie Robinson
Britnee Angell Victoria Falco Connor Lavin Claudia Rodas
Alexander Angelo Jeffrey Falk Nicholas Lawrence Andrew Rodriques
Riley Antle Zachary Festa Ngocgiau Le Kristina Russo
Phillip Antonucci Patrick Finn Amanda Lemire Jessica Ruttan
Esther Apeah Callan Finn-McMahon Stephanie LoCascio Daniel Sacco
Adjoa Asafu-Adjaye Amber Floury Tahj Lovelock Kyle Santosuosso
Joel Ashema Zachary Foley Cox Destinee Lucier Taryn Scanlon
Alyssa Banks Emelia Follansbee Tatyana Lugo-Gardner Paul III Schwarz
Deja Barber Regan Forss Lexey Lutz Rebecca Scott
Jessica Barbera Rebecca Foti Jillian Major Olivia Seaback
Brendan Bartlett Connor Francis Raissa Mapinduzi Amanda Servis
Robin Baxter Doretha Frias James Marcello Allyson Shaw
Derona Beckford Camryn Gallagher Andrew Marcotte Karleen Shorette
Alicia Beebe Gage Garcia Margaret Maresco Dasmine Silva
Darren Belliveau Samantha Gobin Bryan Jr Mariner Julia Simoneau
Kaylee Besse Anna Golemo Yvonne Markham Amanda Sinatra
Adam Black Mellany Gomez Emily Martin James Smith
Colleen Bogonovich Janeliee Gomez Jonathan Marx Jacob Smith
Ashley Bottis Ralph Grasso Jeffrey Mayer McKenzie Sparling
Trevor Brown Jessica Grindell Matthew McCune Michelle St Denis
Camden Brown Theresa Guidotti Daniel McElhinney Anthony St Pierre
Karlyn Brown Emily Guinee Emma McGrath Carl St.Paul
Elizabeth Buckingham Brown Dakota Haddad Anne Melanson Ariah Stephen
Hunter Burton Madeline Haley Meagan Menegus Doriela Stoja
Abigail Campbell Allyson Hamelin Daniel Mensah-Frimpong Daniel Stout
Sabrina Carreira Emily Hawley Meaghan Miller Anxhela Sulollari
Nadia Carrillo Cassandra Henderson Jack Morgan Christine Swain
Bianca Cassanelli Madelyn Hill Hayley Morin Michaella Taddeo
Christopher Cassettari Joseph Holmes Ryan Murphy Hang Tang
John Castilleja Helza Howland Cassim Alex Myers Mary Tanona
Katherine Castro Jilane Hunzwi Emily Ngo Courtney Taylor
Daniel Chambers Danielle Huston Jacob Nichols John Terranova
Abygail Chapdelaine Jon Isperduli Samantha Norris Marissa Tettoni
Angelica Chavez Wasfa Jaffri Elizabeth Nydam Austin Thomas
Caleb Cimini Tanner Jakola Karen Oberg Zoi Traiforos
Nellda Clark Mathsshael Jean Ciara OConnor Nathan Trombley
Suzanne Colella Theodora Jean Kayla Odegaard Hannah Trudo
Joseph Collins Daniel Jodrey Erica O'Leary Annie Turnbull
Christopher Contento Emily Johnson Priscilla Oti Madison Varano
Brittany Cook Alicia Johnston Abigail Packard Meghan Vieira
Jacquelyn Cournoyer Deborah Joseph Marylee Panient Noah Vinci
Chelsea Cove Sarah Judson Kevin Paquette Cole Walling
Andrew Cucci Gertrude Kamau Kayla Paterson Tami Warner
Samantha Dacey Christina Katsogridakis Suzanne Pekar Abigail Warren
Carly D'Amato Matthew Kelley Otto Pellegrino Kristen Whitton
Michael DeLuca Thomas Kenney Tyler Perron Brett Willson
Mia DiBiasio David Kent Cameron Perry Joshua Wozniak
Sonya DiPietro Bryan Kiley Adam Phillips Jessica Wunderlich
Domenic DiSandro III Bridget Kissi Mariah Pina Sophia Yasin
Diandra Doble Paula Kneeland Aleksandra Pond Hannah Zajchowski
Sarah Dumas Brooke Kresco Alan Portis Katie Zanauskas
Kimbley Dumphy Casey Lacasse Jadelia Quintana Ariana Zecco

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Achieving Scholarship Goals with Interdisciplinary Case Studies


This past fall, Lisa Carpino and Joan-Beth Gow published an article, “Achieving Scholarship Goals with Interdisciplinary Case Studies” in the New England Faculty Development Consortium’s publication The Exchange. The article discusses the benefits of working with a colleague to achieve scholarly writing goals while also complementing classroom pedagogy. With an emphasis on interdisciplinary work, the authors share their experience of creating a case study on eating disorders for classroom use. For faculty who may be interested in doing similar work, steps for getting started on writing an interdisciplinary case are also included in the article. The full article may be viewed at http://www.nefdc.org/exchange/NEFDC%20Fall2017%20Exchange%20.pdf

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Genesis outdoors: Getting creative about creation

web TumeinskiCongratulations to Dr. Marc Tumeinski for having a short article published in the journal Teaching Theology and Religion. Below is some information about the article:

The context: This activity was used in a required undergraduate introductory theology course at a Catholic college. I tried this exercise a month into class, at the start of a section on creation in Genesis.

The pedagogical purpose: The activity encourages students to deepen the skill of reading and understanding the Bible. It also invites students to use their imagination in recognizing the goodness and variety of creation described in Genesis 1. It takes place mostly outdoors, in a natural setting that mirrors the richness of the text, and encourages students to observe their surroundings in light of the text. Doing this as a group creates a positive learning environment; for example, the more active students act as role models of paying attention to detail, observing closely, and taking photos. The exercise mirrors the typical proclamation of Scripture within a communal context.

Description of the strategy: We went on a 40-minute gentle hike. I advised students to dress appropriately and to bring a smart phone. Our campus is wooded with groomed trails; this exercise could be adapted for other outdoor settings and for students of different abilities. We stopped seven times during the hike, reading aloud from Genesis 1:1-2:3, corresponding to the seven days of creation. I emphasized the repeated statement “and God saw that is was good” both vocally and with gesture, engaging student attention. Students were instructed to take lots of pictures (not of people or buildings) that had meaning for them in terms of the Genesis text – did they observe something mentioned in the text, what did they see that was good, and so on. We set a slow pace, allowing time to look, notice, and take photos. Returning to the classroom, students chose three photos and wrote a paragraph on each, describing: the photo, why they chose that image, and how they related it to Genesis. These were turned in, and students emailed the photos to me. I later shared all the photos with students. I tried the assignment twice in back-to-back classes, with different students. For future classes, I am considering possible variations, such as turning the questions into a class discussion, displaying photos in class immediately, adapting the written portion as an assignment.

Why it is effective: Students actively learn outside the classroom, rather than only listening to or reading a text, with the hope that later Bible readings will be more fruitful. They take photographs as a basis for writing, draw on multiple ways of learning, and make creative decisions. In the writing portion, students practice using course vocabulary. At least some were hearing Genesis for the first time, or the first time in a long time, which is a powerful pedagogical technique.

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Dr. Christensen and Two Students Publish Paper


Two AMC students, Nana Owusu and David Jean-Louis ('17), in collaboration with Dr. Christensen, recently published a paper in the journal Invertebrate Biology.  In the paper they examined how a protein called actin, which is present in all plant and animal cells, forms unique patterns (shown red in the image) in the the shell of a small freshwater invertebrate, Daphnia magna.  Moving forward, Dr. Christensen continues to work with AMC students on research projects that seek to shed light on the form and function of these unique, and beautiful, actin structures.  Here is an image of the actin in motion:

Factin 3D

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Lisa Summer Receives AMTA Award


Pictured left to right: Bryanna Tobin, Emma Nadeau, Dr. Lisa Summer, Kayla McBrien and Emily Hawley. 

Dr. Lisa Summer, Director of Music Therapy at Anna Maria College, received the 2017 Award of Merit at the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) National Conference in St. Louis on Friday, November 17. President-elect of AMTA Amber Weldon-Stephens presented the award to Dr. Summer for her contributions to the profession of music therapy.

“I am honored to be recognized by AMTA on a national level,” said Dr. Summer. “This is also an important achievement for the Anna Maria College Music Therapy program where we are preparing the next generation of music therapists and professionals. I will continue to work hard to be a role model to our students.”

The Award of Merit is given to individuals who have made significant contributions to AMTA through education, service, clinical practice and research. It honors their long term efforts towards the development and growth of the profession of music therapy.

“Lisa Summer tirelessly works to develop, maintain and advance Helen Bonny’s mission of GIM (Guided Imagery and Music) training, practice and research with a spirit of compassion, excellence and thoughtfulness,” said Amber Weldon-Stephens, President-elect of AMTA. “Lisa worked closely with Helen Bonny during her lifetime to maintain the integrity of the method. She has created important adaptations of GIM for acute populations.”

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A New Point of View

Civilian Academy Paxton and Rutland residents shared what they learned shortly before receiving certificates to graduate from the free Civilian Police Academy at the Paxton Police Department on Dec. 12. Participants took part in weekly classes covering many aspects of law enforcement over the nine-week course, which started in early September.

The program included a class on domestic violence, taught by Dr. Tonisha M. Pinckney, a survivor of domestic violence. She is the director of the criminal justice graduate and undergraduate programs at Anna Maria College.

“The class educated students on the cycle of violence within a relationship, police responsiveness to domestic calls, the special considerations when a child is present on the scene, and how to tell if they are potentially in a violent or abusive relationship,” Pinckney said. “Students asked about how to help friends or family members who are in said relationships. We discussed the importance of proper police intervention, protection orders, and other legal means of protection and survival.”

Pinckney said many students were interested in the restraining order process, approaches for dealing with offenders, and resources that are available to victims.

Academy student Brett Wilson, of Rutland, a criminal justice major with a focus in domestic violence at Anna Maria College, grew up around domestic violence. As a result of that experience, he hopes to become a police officer in Worcester.

“My sister has bipolar disorder,” Willson said. “My parents divorced and became argumentative. So, it became parent vs. kid. And it hit home.”

In another part of the course, Webster Police K9 Officer Aaron Suss brought in two dogs, a 4-year-old German Shepherd named Bandit, and 4-month-old Dutch Shepherd named Bravo. Suss did a Powerpoint presentation and an outside live demonstration where Bandit had to apprehend a suspect, which was professional sport decoy Ken Pelc, and a short track where Bandit had to search for him and locate him, as he was hiding in some brush.

“I had some good feedback from the class, especially after I did the live demonstrations,” Suss said. “I explained how they detect drugs, how they search for evidence, track suspects, and how they are used to gain control and compliance from a suspect when they are located.”

Suss brought Bravo to show them the difference between a young pup that has the qualities to be a police dog versus a house pet. Bravo showed the class some of his beginning bite work on a puppy sleeve, Suss said. He talked about how dogs can be used for solving things other than crimes.

“I do go into a little bit of how dogs are used by other professions,” Suss said. “Some examples are: service dogs that help identify when their owners are going to experience a seizure, search and rescue dogs, and detector canine’s that are used by the movie industry to help detect pirated movie tapes, and the extermination industry, which uses dogs to detect bed bugs.”

Former owner of Land & Sea Market in Paxton, James Laingor, knew many of the police officers, who were customers, but he said he learned something in every class. Laingor said as a town resident, he wanted to know more about what officers go through on a daily basis, adding he luckily hasn’t needed them for an emergency.

“I now have a lot more respect for what they do,” Laingor said. “I recommend anyone to take the class, whether you have some police background or not.”

Laingor’s favorite class was when Police Chief Robert Desrosiers did an accident reconstruction demonstration in the station’s parking lot – the old-fashioned way – with the weighted half-tire, pulling it to determine how fast the victim’s car could have been traveling.

“Today, they use a math formula to determine the speed,” Laingor said. “But sometimes the old way is the best way.”

Holden’s former police service aide and former Paxton public safety dispatcher Donmarie Desrosiers, of Paxton, has enrolled in the class twice, adding that case law changes.

“It wasn’t the same verbatim,” Desrosiers said. “My favorite class was on the role of the medical examiner. Seeing the bones, excavator, and the site are intriguing.”

Civilian Academy organizer Sgt. Guy Bibeau said he felt and hoped that the program gave the five Anna Maria College students and eight others an insight as to what goes on in law enforcement.

Pinckney agreed.

“I believe it necessary to bridge the gap between communities and law enforcement so that questions can be answered, relationships can build, and there can be more communication and cooperation between the two groups,” said Pinckney.

Article and Picture taken from: 

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Dr. Karin Ciance selected as Top Female Executive for 2018



Dr. Karin Ciance selected as Top Female Executive for 2018 by the International Association of Top Professionals (IAOTP)

Dr. Karin Ciance, Assistant Professor of Nursing at Anna Maria College was just recently selected for the Top Female Executive Award for 2018 by the International Association of Top Professionals (IAOTP).

While inclusion with the International Association of Top Professionals is an honor in itself, only a few women are chosen for this distinction based on their years of experience in the field, professional accomplishments, academic achievements, leadership abilities, and contributions to their communities.  These are truly incredibly talented women who have dedicated their life to their work and have had a lifetime of achievement and success in a male dominated industry!

Dr. Ciance was also selected by IAOTP as Top Professional of the Year in Community Health Nursing for 2017 for her outstanding leadership and dedication to the field.  She will be honored at IAOTP’s 2017 Annual Award Gala at the Ritz Carlton in Battery Park NYC for both distinctions. www.iaotp.com/award-gala 

Dr. Ciance is being recognized for having over 3 decades of professional experience in the Nursing Industry and for her dynamic results-driven leadership on all levels with Nursing.  With her diverse background and experience, Dr. Ciance has held an impressive repertoire of prior roles.  She started her career as a Staff Nurse, Charge Nurse, Associate Nurse Manager, Nurse Manager, Director of Clinical Services and Director of Urgent Care.  She has worked in many different areas in nursing including urgent care, medical/surgical nursing, women’s health, rehabilitation, community health, home health and long-term care. 

Dr. Ciance earned her Diploma in Nursing in 1983 from Worcester City Hospital School of Nursing and her Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 1989 at Worcester State College.  While working full time, she simultaneously earned her MS in Community Health Nursing also at Worcester State College in 2004 and completed her Doctorate of Nursing Practice at Walden University in 2014.

Dr. Ciance began teaching a lab section at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) and fell in love with it that she later accepted a position at MCPHS University in Worcester, Massachusetts as an Adjunct Nursing Professor.  She also accepted a position as an adjunct nursing professor and taught in the graduate nursing program at Worcester State College in the Community Health Nursing program. In 2010, Dr. Ciance taught in the Associate Nursing Program as an adjunct professor, before accepting a full time faculty at Anna Maria College in 2011. Dr. Ciance has demonstrated success not only as a nurse but also as a professor educating nursing students and developing courses for the BSN program and for the college’s online RN-BSN program including fundamentals, community health, public health, research and senior seminar.   Dr. Ciance also advises students and attends faculty assemblies and school meetings when she isn’t in the classroom and serves as a mentor for new faculty and graduate nursing students, is the Vice President of the Faculty Assembly.

Throughout her illustrious career, Dr. Ciance remains active in her community, has received numerous awards, accolades and has been featured in many publications and magazines for her outstanding leadership and commitment to the profession. In 2011 selected as Professional of the Year by Continental Who’s Who.  In 2013 selected as VIP of the Year with Strathmore Whos Who.  In 2015 she was selected as Outstanding Professional of the Year and inducted as Roundtable Member by Strathmore Who’s Who.  In 2016 selected by Oxford Who’s Who Tier of Excellence and featured in Women of Distinction Magazine. She was featured on a billboard on the Reuters Building in Times Square and for 2017 selected Top Nurse in Paxton, Massachusetts by the International Nurses Association and named Top Professional of the Year in Community Health Nursing by the International Association of Top Professionals.  She is an active member of Worcester City Hospital School of Nursing Alumni Association, Vice President of the Iota Phi Chapter for the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society for Nurses, the American Nurses Association, Massachusetts/Rhode Island League for Nursing, Golden Key International Honor Society and American Woman of Today. She is also the Executive Director for the Greenwood Street Medical Clinic, which is a free medical clinic that serves underprivileged citizens with no medical insurance.

 For more information on Dr. Ciance please visit her faculty profile here

Watch her video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GmTr-vrdcmQ News Story text from (https://pressreleasejet.com/news/dr-karin-ciance-selected-as-top-female-executive-for-2018-by-the-international-association-of-top-professionals-iaotp.html)


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Art in the Park

ARTPARKAMC poster72 2aArt in the Park, Worcester at Anna Maria College

The Department of Art & Design at Anna Maria College announces a new outdoor exhibition: Art in the Park, Worcester at Anna Maria CollegeThe exhibition features four sculptures on display from September 15, 2017 – May 13, 2018. The exhibiting artists hail from Vermont, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. Their works are viewed in the following order when entering the Paxton, MA campus: Joe Chirchirillo, Spinning Wheel; James Kitchen, Stumbling Blocks; Elizabeth Keithline, Two Boats, One for You, One for Me; and Michael Yefko, Suburban Slip No. 3

This collaborative effort between Art in the Park of Worcester and Anna Maria College introduces public art to the college campus. A spacious venue known for its natural beauty, the display becomes a highlight of the visual landscape. This biennial exhibit proposes to explore the diverse use materials and duplication of forms that build the individual work. Each sculpture has distinctive characteristics that lend to the seasonal calendar of Central Massachusetts: on snowy surfaces, in rusty fall colors, and throughout verdant spring, morning mist and lively sunshine mark the intervals and testament of their quotidian presence. 

The Worcester Cultural Council, under the direction and leadership of Gloria Hall, began Art in the Park in 2008.  Ms. Hall, currently the Executive Director of Art in the Park, with the Department of Visual Arts at Anna Maria College, initiated this partnership to provide the campus and community with occasions to interact more intimately with the work, enriching daily life and deepening the beholders’ relationship to the art and surrounding space.

The public, students, and staff are invited to explore and enjoy these sculptures throughout the academic year. Join Anna Maria College as various programs, and sculpture walks celebrate this new partnership. Materials and information about the sculptures are available by visiting the Office of Admissions or the Art Center in Miriam Hall.

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The Washington Center Internship Program Fundraiser Gala

TWC Gala 2017

Pictured from left to right:  Timothy Ray, Class of 2014; Thanasi Christoforu, Class of 2014; Charles (Tony) Valenti, Class of 2014; Tori Fabiano, class of 2017; Prof. Dianne White, (also a Washington Center alumnus); Eric Kanavos (current intern) class of 2018; Victor Sambola, Class of 2015.

On evening of October 2nd, Professor Dianne White had the pleasure of hosting the Anna Maria alumni of the program at the Washington Center gala event in Washington, D.C.. And as a Washington Center alumnus herself, she was especially delighted to do so.  Those in attendance were:  Thanasi Christoforou, INTERPOL; Tori Fabiano, currently applying to law school; Timothy Ray, Montgomery County Government, Department of Police, State of Maryland; and Victor Sambola, Department of Homeland Security.  Also in attendance was our student who is currently interning with the U.S. Marshals Service, Eric Kanavos and Charles (Tony) Valenti, an AMC alumnus who also works for Montgomery County Government, Department of Police.  

There were so many noteworthy moments during the evening, but the greatest maybe the immense pride and happiness Professor White felt simply being in the company of our graduated Criminal Justice and Law and Society students who not only distinguished themselves during their time in D.C. as interns, but currently in their positions at several esteemed state and federal governmental agencies.  All of our alumni in attendance were effusive in their praise of The Washington Center Internship Program.  They described the experience as the primary impetus in bringing them back to the Metropolitan D.C. area and in securing their current positions in law enforcement.  They were also effusive in their praise of their professors at AMC, some of whom they described as “making it possible for me to be here.”  Our alumni of the program gave a special shout out, as it were, to the former Washington Center liaison for the college, Prof. Michael McCartney, with whom many stay in touch.  Also noteworthy is the generosity all of our alumni at the gala (as well as several who could not attend) who have regularly offered the liaisons and our interns in the program.  For example, within ten minutes of meeting Eric Kanavos, Tim Ray asked him if he would be interested in a ride along.  Tim then turned to me and said, “If there is anything I can do for you and your students, I’d be happy to.”  It was a night of celebration, indeed!


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Best Horror Film Themes

Spooky House


Throughout history, music has been used as a medium to elevate the spirit in a liturgical setting, served as entertainment, as well as medicinal therapy. Music has also had a deep connection with inciting fear to the masses. Audiences and composers understand the power that music has over the psyche of the listener. In the spirit of Halloween, we will look at music’s role in film.

During the Middle Ages, use of the tritone, often referred to as “the devil’s interval,” was banned in liturgical music. Unlike the misleading name, the tritone consists of only two notes but is separated by three whole steps in music. Some speculate that it is a mocking of the Holy Trinity. When you hear both notes together, this particular interval causes uneasiness and discomfort to the listener. It is no surprise then that many films heavily use this interval within a composition to move the audience to feel unbalanced. Some people even allege they hear the interval playing in a drone, trance-like manner throughout the entirety of a movie to cause an hour and half of utter fright.

Regarding the tonality of a horror film score, composers use dissonance to their advantage. Dissonant chords cause the audience to feel unstable and need to resolve harmonically. Throughout music history, every great composer utilized dissonance to take the listener on a musical journey.  It was how they took the audience to the resolution that separated the good composers from the great composers. The general concept behind dissonance is that it elicits a feeling that something is wrong – a concept prevalent in every horror film.

The juxtaposition of volume is a musical device always employed in cinema. Often times, the audience will jump at the sudden rush of musical notes. The famous shower scene in the film “Psycho” had audiences reeling in fear due in large part to this very musical device.

As music continues to progress, instruments are being created to give us different timbres. Relevant composers will even make use of untraditional instruments or untraditional playing methods. Composer Krysztof Penderecki’s famous song “Threnody” was used in the popular film “The Shining.”

My top six horror film pics using these fear-inducing musical schemes are:

  1. Insidious – This particular film begins with perhaps the most memorable and frightening opening credits. The music during the opening credits is directly responsible for this reason.
  2. Halloween – The simple Michael Myers melody that we all know is perhaps the most recognizable theme song for any antagonist in a horror film genre. Darth Vader’s “Imperial March” is probably the only song that better associates a character with a theme song.
  3. The Wizard of Oz “The Witches’ Theme” – Before horror film fanatics throw a fit, what other children’s film allows a beloved main character to be ripped to shreds? Having produced, directed, choreographed and music directed the stage production many times, the dissonant chords used for the Wicked Witch caused tremendous fear in the four-year-olds that were sure to attend this production.
  4. The Shining – During this film, the use of the devil’s interval, dissonance, and Threnody is absolutely masterful.
  5. Jaws – The use of rests in this two-note theme is absolutely incredible. This song continues to instill great panic to beach-goers’ worldwide.
  6. Psycho – Already mentioned earlier, no musical score employs the musical devices mentioned earlier better than this film. It continues to set the standard for film writing. Be sure to thank Bernard Hermann for composing the greatest horror film soundtrack ever written!

Happy Halloween!

Reagan Paras
Director of Music
Anna Maria College

*Originally appeared in Worcester Magazine in October 2016

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Memorial for Professor Andrew McCarthy

Andrew McCarthy Memorial Tree


To honor the life of Andrew McCarthy, a beloved Theology and Humanities Associate Professor at Anna Maria College, a ceremony was held on Wednesday, October 4. The ceremony took place at the front commons, in front of the eastern redbud tree planted there in his memory. Professor McCarthy was known for his joyous spirit, devout spirituality and volunteerism.  Professor McCarthy was a graduate of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, and earned is M.A. in Theology from Spring Hill College, and Ph.D. in Theology and Religious Studies from Catholic University of America.  He was a prolific scholar, publishing works in the fields of theology and teaching science, and authored the book “Francis of Assisi as Artist of the Spiritual Life.”  Everyone who met Professor McCarthy saw what a tremendous human being he was and the Anna Maria College community misses him dearly. We encourage those who knew him to visit the redbud tree to reflect on your memories of Professor McCarthy.

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Frank Poor, From the Road

Frank Poor Poster web


Frank Poor, From the Road

The Art Center Gallery at Anna Maria College presents Frank Poor, From the Road, October 25 – December 22, 2017.  Originally from Woodstock, Georgia, Frank Poor settled in industrial Cranston, Rhode Island after graduating from RISD.  Poor fabricates architectural structures, photographs, and prints related to Southern vernacular architecture.  Krakow Witkin Gallery of Boston represents Poor.  He exhibits nationally and has received numerous honors, grants, and awards. Poor blends and juxtaposes elements of sculpture and photography, where photos are sometimes printed on glass or panel, and other times mounted directly to the wall. The sculptural elements represent buildings he photographs in the South. Witnessing the light, shadow, and reflection of the sculptures is to the viewer as the photographs are to Poor’s experience while photographing. The Anna Maria College exhibit of Frank Poor, From the Road considers the artist’s investigation of experience, and proposes to explore the discontinuity between memory and reality, subjects which drive the work.

An accompanying catalog further explores the artist’s work and will be available for sale at the Opening. The public, students, staff, and classes are invited to attend the Opening Reception on Wednesday, October 25 from 5:00 – 7:00 pm, featuring a discussion between Poor and Gallery Director Darrell Matsumoto.

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Annual Art Faculty Exhibition


Department of Art & Design Faculty Exhibition 2017

The Art Center Gallery at Anna Maria College

announces the Annual Art Faculty Exhibition from

Wednesday, September 13 – Wednesday, October 21. 

Gallery Hours are Monday thru Friday, 9:00am-3:30pm.

The work spans categories of painting, photography,

calligraphy, and sculpture, representing recent work

by the department’s faculty of fine artists;

Joseph DiGregorio, Dyan Gulovsen, Alice

Lambert, Timmary Leary, Darrell Matsumoto,

Joseph Ray, Sumiyo Toribe, Jason Travers,

David Wackell, and Michael Yefko. 

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An Interview with Lisa Summer


Tension on the Korean peninsula is a major topic in the news and the summer was unusually tumultuous. In May, the South Korean Supreme Court upheld parliament’s impeachment of South Korean President Park Geun-hye, the country’s first female president, on corruption charges. The decision was met with violent protests. Then, North Korea escalated tensions by conducting several missile tests and detonated a nuclear device as part of a weapons test.

Anna Maria College Professor Lisa Summer, Director of Music Therapy, spent several weeks in South Korea teaching at Ewha Womans University in Seoul. Ewha is the foremost women’s university in South Korea.

We had an opportunity to talk to Dr. Summer about her experience.

What was the political atmosphere like in South Korea during your time there, especially among your students?

When South Korean President Park Geun-hye was forced out of office due to cronyism and corruption, Ewha – the university where I was teaching – felt direct repercussions of the cronyism charges, as Ewha’s own president, a friend of Park Geun-hye, was removed from office herself.

Dozens were injured in ensuing protests over the president’s impeachment. Some even died, something very rare in a society where violent protests are uncommon. Soon after, North Korea escalated tensions with more missile test. Despite all of this, students – and the public in general – continued to carry on with their normal activities. For the most part, the students and teachers with whom I interacted on a daily basis did not discuss the events that were contemporaneous with my visit.

How would you categorize the South Korean perception of President Trump as it pertains to the tensions with North Korea? And the public perception of the United States? Is it changing?

The average South Korean, in my opinion, regardless of political leaning, is more focused on the behavior of the leaders of North and South Korea. A few people expressed concern about President Trump’s comprehension of the North South situation, but no one I spoke with questioned the state of the American alliance.

How is the Korean public responding to the current threats? How do the threats play out in the local news?

Air raid sirens rang out once for a scheduled public drill while I was there. I was informed prior to the drill, and we carried on as if it were not happening. However, outside on the streets air raid procedures were practiced. Because our students didn’t participate in the drill, I can’t compare it to the Cold War drills from the 1960s. My experiences in the 60’s involved taking action as a class, proceeding to the basement of our elementary school and covering up against a wall. The planned drill in South Korea didn’t worry or even inconvenience me.

Did you witness or are you aware of any student activism taking place in Korea related to the nuclear tensions?

I witnessed no activism personally and was more aware of the cronyism and dismissal of the president because that had direct bearing on my presence at Ewha, where their president was removed as a consequence of the removal of the national president. The student activism I experienced was focused on Ewha’s student body wanting a say in the selection of the university’s next president.

As an American, why do you think Koreans didn’t engage with you on the nuclear situation?

While the North Korean situation may be a conversation topic for the locals, they may have considered as rude to bring up with me. I guess it may be like when one invites non-family members to a family dinner. Those of us hosting would probably not want to discuss Uncle Charlie’s recent conviction, nor would we bring up Cousin Bob’s personal issues. It’s not that we would be “hiding” things from our guests per se but more like we wouldn’t want to trouble them with our internecine struggles. And similarly, Charlie’s violent proclivities and Bob’s drunkenness are probably never going to impact our guests’ lives, so why bring it up with them? North Korea’s government’s animus for South Korea and the US is highly unlikely to have any real impact on me during my visit, so it’s not an issue that my hosts would necessarily want to focus on.

Did you ever feel a desire to talk about North Korea while you were there? Did you feel as though it wasn’t a welcome topic of conversation?

Honestly no. When you’re in another country for an extended period of time you inevitably ingrain yourself in the culture and customs. No one else was really talking about it, so I never had the desire to offer my two-cents. It didn’t appear to be something that was a taboo either, it just wasn’t on their radar at the time.

How did you feel as an American abroad? As an American in a danger zone?

I am at ease when I travel abroad, whether in Korea, or China, or other countries. The political tensions I see on the news – in my experience – are about governments, not people; about ideologies as preached by individuals in the news, not about my intercourse with people in the street. My husband and I travel in countries some identify as “enemies”, such as the People’s Republic of China, or identified as potential threats, such as Indonesia. But, on the streets, we encountered friendly faces; people happy to have American visitors. Often, we are the only Westerners in a location we are visiting. Then the hospitality and friendliness increases to the point of embarrassment.

How did you use music or how does music play a role in this tense climate?

My teaching and supervision this past August focused on the use of music therapy with individuals with well adults and with adults with mental health issues.  In August I taught and supervised music therapists regarding a music therapy method called Supportive Music & Imagery. Supportive MI is being used by these music therapists to reduce their clients’ anxiety about political issues, and to help their clients cope with the pressure of the current tense climate and its effect upon their daily life and relationships.  

Are people using music as an outlet for an emotional response? How?

Yes, people listen to music on a daily basis to express and discharge their negative feelings and anxiety.  They are making playlists on their phones, listening at home, and especially on the commute to work. 

Do you think music therapy could be used here in the US to ease stress over the political climate?

I do! I think there are a lot of us who would benefit from it. Even those of use that live near Anna Maria can still feel some anxiety or fear about North Korea even though we are safe from them. Music therapy is different than conventional talk therapy because it allows us to be more interactive and expressive than a conversation.

Describe the levels of civic engagement you saw among South Koreans during your time

I would say there level of civic engagement is up there with ours. Given the timing of my visit, it’s likely that I was there to observe levels that were higher than normal. What is interesting to me is how focused they are on what’s going on in South Korea as opposed to the rest of the world. I know Americans are often criticized for sometimes being out of the loop on international events, but I think you could say the same for South Korea or any other country for that matter. We will always tend to focus on what’s going on in our own backyard rather than our neighbors.

Aside from the Presidential scandal, what other reasons do you think contributed to the lack of discussion about North Korea?

I don’t think it’s apathy but more a sense of normalcy. All South Koreans live with the fact  that they have an erratic, sometimes violent neighbor to the North. While the increased number of provocations may have been shocking to us, to them it could just be a fact of life. They deal with them on a daily basis so nothing North Korea does is really surprising anymore I imagine. 

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Paxton Civilian Police Academy

Paxton Civilian Police Academy
PAXTON — For the first time, Anna Maria College students will receive credit for participating in the Civilian Police Academy, which kicks off later this month. Civilian Police Academy programs are designed to acquaint individuals who are not sworn police officers with the activities of their local police department

“In its third year, our previous class participants were mostly the older generation,” Organizer and Police Sgt. Guy Bibeau said. “But this year, we incorporated an Anna Maria College credit program, where college students can earn credit after writing papers on what they learned in the academy.”

The academy also appeals to civilians who are new to law enforcement. Participants will be part of hands-on mock trials where they can arrest a “criminal,” learn about interviewing and interrogation through fingerprinting, and experience the use of force through a domestic disturbance. Those in the academy will learn about a new topic each week, ranging from criminal/constitutional law, canine tactics, role of the medical examiner, domestic violence, community policing, and social media.

The academy is free and funded by the police department. Thirteen people are currently enrolled, and there is space for 25 people, Bibeau said. However, participants must be more than 18-years-old. About seven Anna Maria students are enrolled so far. Classes are held on Tuesdays for nine weeks from 6 to 9 p.m.

Anna Maria College Criminal Justice Programs for Undergraduate and Graduate Studies Director Dr. Tonisha M. Pinckney said the civilian academy can break stereotypes.

“The Civilian Academy is an amazing opportunity to connect the police with members of the community (including Anna Maria College students),” Pinckney said. “At a time when there are misperceptions, misunderstandings, and miscommunication between law enforcement and the community, this partnership is designed to educate the community and provide the police an opportunity to positively interact with those they serve and protect.”

Community misperceptions of law enforcement can only be countered by education and communication, Pinckney continued. The AMC Criminal Justice programs have 12 specializations, including: law enforcement and corrections, criminal justice policy and reform, and mental illness crisis intervention. In order to better educate students, college courses are taught by expert practitioners, Pinckney said.

In keeping with that tradition, the Civilian Academy course includes: subject matter experts, such as: Dr. Tonisha M. Pinckney (topics: on domestic violence, community policing and media, and identity theft), Dr. Ann Marie Mires (topic: role of the medical examiner), Dt. Sgt. Mailman (Worcester Police – topic: gangs), and Sgt. Guy Bibeau (topics: Use of force/ tasers and criminal law).

Other topics include: motor vehicle law, operating under the influence (alcohol and drugs), court procedure, firearms safety course with a certification included, and sexual assaults, Bibeau added. CEMELC Canine and Webster Police Officer Aaron Suss will conduct a canine demonstration.

However, the academy can be more than just learning the jest of what goes on in police work.

“In the past, some came in with tunnel vision, or a onesided view of what we do, and they graduated with a totally different outlook,” Bibeau said. “Hopefully, all students will leave with a little more knowledge and understanding about policing than when they came in.”

Molly Bish Center and Forensic Criminology Program Director, Dr. Ann Marie Mires, teaches a lecture on medical-legal death investigation in the academy. Mires commented on the benefit of the partnership.

“Having the subject matter experts come from the college creates that bridge between the community, the college, and policing,” Mires said. “We want our students to enroll in the course so that they can really see first-hand that interconnection between the college, citizenry, and the police. Instead of just reading about it, they get hands-on experience.”

Bibeau said he will take the time to explain different aspects of the curriculum since some students need attention than others. For instance, he will teach how an arrest is more than speaking to someone and then handcuffing the suspect.

“We can’t change anyone, but I hope they leave with a better understanding and appreciation for what we do day-in and day-out,” Bibeau said. “For the citizens, it’s a way to see the insides of what goes on around here, and for the Anna Maria students, it’s a way to see if they’re interested in police work — or not.”

The Anna Maria College Criminal Justice programs consist of criminal justice, law, politics and society, and forensic criminology. She said the school creates strong leaders, as well as educated and socially conscious citizens. Pinckney said the academy is all about community policing.

“The Civilian Academy will give the opportunity for citizens to not only appreciate the perspectives of law enforcement but a deeper understanding of how they navigate their role within the communities,” Pinckney said. “So having a better-informed citizenry creates a safer community – now we have buy-in from the community. Creates a partnership with the citizens – true community policing.”

Bibeau went onto say it’s a way to bring the community closer to the police department so that it’s not so surface level on both ends.

Pinckney explained that the Paxton Police ran the Civilian Academy successfully, but this partnership has allowed the college to expand upon the topics.

“The course is an experiential learning course designed to expose students to the laws, procedures, and processes of policing from the perspective of local law enforcement, facilitate a connectedness and collaboration between the community, AMC students, and Paxton Police, and provide an opportunity for positive discussions regarding misperceptions of policing and misunderstandings about roles of police in the community,” Pinckney said.

Bibeau said that participants can also go on night ride-alongs with a signed liability form after the program.

Anna Maria College Chief Information Officer Michael Miers said students enrolled in the academy were not able to comment to protect their privacy.

The first class, which includes a station tour, will be on Sept. 12 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The program will run for approximately 13 weeks.

Applications are available at the station, 576 Pleasant St. Participants must sign a covenant not to sue and undergo a background and criminal record check. For information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or call 508-793-3100, ext. 3155.


The Landmark
By Tara Vocino
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Education is About Learning from Failure


I was relaxing reading the New York Sunday Times a few weeks ago when an article, Learning to Fail by Jessica Bennett, caught my eye. The article discusses the struggle that college students have in seeing failure as part of the learning process. According to Bennett, support services have been set up across college campuses to help students learn to fail. Professors also take part in the dialogue, recalling their own failures.

As a career educator, I’m always trying to make connections between teaching and learning. How is it that we have students who see failure as a personal reflection of their character, rather than a natural struggle to learn new information? For over 35 years I have taught elementary students and worked to enhance teacher training.  I now teach students in undergraduate and graduate educator preparation, and I want to make sure they understand educating students isn’t always about test scores and proficient ratings. If we are to change attitudes it will begin with school administrators and teachers fostering the process rather than the product of learning.

Somehow we lose touch of what learning means. Even though we cheer on a baby as they stumble and fall repeatedly learning to walk, we can’t accept these “stumbles” in ourselves. In the world of sports, we understand that there will be strikes, fumbled balls, missed hits, and losses.  Why can’t we carry this thinking over into academic learning?

For my Ed Prep students, I offer the following advice as an educator of 35 years.

  • Praise your students’ efforts rather than just the grade.
  • Talk about failure and learning from mistakes as a part learning.
  • Foster intrinsic motivation which comes from wanting to do better to reach personal goals.
  • Highlight famous people who have failed many times, such as Albert Einstein, Abraham Lincoln, Michael Jordan, Walt Disney, and J.K. Rowling just to name a few.
  • Share your own failures and mistakes so students see that you also have similar experiences and struggles.
  • Celebrate the resilience and perseverance you see in your students because that is what is truly important.

Future teachers will have much to impart on their students.  Give them a gift they will use forever.  Help your students embrace failure as a natural part of learning. Capable, smart people fail every day. It is how you cope with these failures that show your determination to succeed. 

Joanne McDonnell, M.Ed., Assistant Professor/Director of Education Programs at Anna Maria College. Joanne has taught PK-12 students and teachers in Massachusetts for thirty-six years.

To read Jessica Bennett’s article, Learning to Fail: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/24/fashion/fear-of-failure.html

Expand your learning through Ted Talks: J.K. Rowling the Fringe Benefits of Failure: https://www.ted.com/talks/jk_rowling_the_fringe_benefits_of_failure

The Unexpected Benefits of Failure, By Astro Teller: https://www.ted.com/talks/astro_teller_the_unexpected_benefit_of_celebrating_failure

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Peter Miller Receives NEASCAC Award

Peter Miller

The New England Association for College Admission Counseling Professional of the Year Award selected to Peter Miller for his contributions to the field of college admissions and counseling. These awards honor NEACAC members across the profession, including those affiliated with colleges and universities, high schools, independent counselors and community-based organizations.  Award recipients are strong and ethical advocates for students and/or their institutions and have a proven record of accomplishment throughout their careers.  They demonstrate honesty, patience, thoroughness and sensitivity in their work with students, parents and colleagues.  They are mentors, leaders and consummate professionals within the college admissions and financial aid profession.

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